Thursday, December 21, 2006
Let me site an incident which very recently was witnessed by me. I was traveling in a local train in Mumbai with my father, he had come from Delhi to visit me, when I came face to face with many harsh truths of life - Things that we know but still when we see it right in front of us, a chill runs down our spine. I and my dad got into a general compartment of a slow train which luckily was not too crowded, and we therefore managed to get a place to sit on the uncomfortable wooden benches. Just as I was scanning the people around me, my eyes met with one painfully old man who was seated on the bench next to mine. I would not want to describe the pain his body was going though by telling you about the visible discomforts, because it’s ridiculously scary, but all I would want to site is that death was definitely a better option. I was worried thinking how at all this man managed to board the train and for that matter how he would be able to get off. Finally his destination arrived and he stumbled out with a plastic bag in one hand, a stick on the other with his uncontrollably shaky head. Should this be the fate of any person I thought? Now, the second painful wonder did not take more than a few minutes to appear. This time it was a blind man trying to sell some cheap pens, writing pads, plastic covers etc., in spite of the physical impairment, he did not give up on life and tried making a living, perhaps for himself or maybe for his family. Though he looked dreadfully tired, he still managed to speak his practiced sales dialogues and sold a few things. I also admired and wonder, as well as felt bad at his state of helplessness, when I realized that he is trusting his customers with the money they were giving him to be the correct sum. Shall I say he is helplessly dependent! Can any one of us reading this note remotely imagine a life of permanent darkness? It definitely seems like this is not something that can happen to me. Now, there were a couple of more incidents that happened, all of them I would perhaps not want to put down, but let me just talk about one last scene. The rush in the train had risen a bit and me and my dad had to stand close of the exit gate just to be sure that we can make our way out when our stop comes, that when 2 middle-aged women boarded the train, one was carrying a huge plastic bag full of junk and the other had a small packet in her hand. Their looks suggested that they were rag pickers; anyway, coming back to what I wanted to say is that these 2 less fortunate ladies managed to make their way through the crowd and sat on the floor close to the exit doors - right in front of us. That’s when I was thinking how bad a situation it must be that they feel no uneasiness in sitting on the perpetually filthy floor. Just then, to add to my consciences misery, one of the women laid a packet there and opened up their lunch, it’s needless to talk of the kind of food they were having. Again, can any of us think of spending a day like this? We would perhaps prefer not to eat, than eating filthy grub at an equally filthy place. These were a few sights which I saw on my first, and hopefully the last local train journey in the city of 'lights and riches', Mumbai. Later in the day, I got engaged with the chores of life, but these thoughts somehow were running in the back of my mind. In evening, on our way back to the place we were staying, my dad said that, though uncomfortable, but there was fun and pleasure in traveling in public transports, that’s when I smiled and replied to him saying that, he thinks this way because he knows that the kind of life he lived that day will not be the kind he will live forever. He just looked back with agreeing eyes. Fortunate we are, don’t you think?